6 Keys to Coping with Change More Restoratively
Facing change with resiliency and productivity.
Posted December 11, 2018
I began working on this post two weeks ago after talking to two teachers in a neighboring district about changes that were happening in their building next fall. We joked that we may need to do a book club about "Who Moved My Cheese" and discussed the possibility of offering a workshop about adapting to change. When I got home that November afternoon, I began to look at the current research on coping with change and jotting down notes.
Two weeks later, my children's school district is experiencing significant changes that will affect everyone this semester and far beyond. Now the strategies I found have become ironically applicable to my own life, and I do intend to use several of them over the next few weeks and months.
Many spiritual paths counsel that change is inevitable and the only thing on which we can rely. Still, change is difficult for many of us, bringing worry, fear, anger, or feelings of vulnerability to some, and relief and hope to others. Unfortunately, this diversity of emotions can create rifts, as people struggle with accepting the different reactions of others to the change.
What I wish for all of us in the midst of any change, whether we welcome it or dread it, is to approach each other with as much care and humanity as possible. We can give others the gift of our authentic respect, good-will, and compassion, even if we don't see eye to eye. We can remember that we mostly disagree about which strategies to use in our desire to address the same fundamental needs, including safety, community, dignity, fairness, care, responsibility, learning, and justice. We just choose different paths to get there and see only some parts of the proverbial elephant illuminated along our half-lit way.
As the changes in my own district have been unfolding, I have seen people snickering about another person's comments out of earshot, as well as reaching out across differences to listen attentively to the good reasons behind someone else's opinions. I assume that the former comes from lack of trust and faith in each other, while the latter comes from a desire to build that much-needed trust.
At worst, change becomes another reason to come apart.
At best, change becomes an opportunity to help shape the future together.
Wherever you are as you read this, and however change finds you, I hope the six tips below will help you remember that the power to connect with others and shape change into a better world is within each of us right now.
Cohen, G.L. & Sherman, D.K. (2014). The Psychology of Change: Self-Affirmation and Social Psychological Intervention. Annu. Rev. Psychol. 2014.65:333-371. Downloaded from www.annualreviews.org by Stanford University - Main Campus - Lane Medical Library on 01/03/14.